Sunday, 6 June 2010
Saturday 5th June 2010
My last sleep in Lagos was a good one. NEPA appeared to be kind to me and to my knowledge remained on all night. NEPA’s favour lasted until about 1.30, so I was blessed with air con and light all morning. This gave me the luxury of dry hair, light to pack by and even the internet was working well and fast. I could almost have forgotten its inconvenience over the past two weeks (but only almost).
Angela gave me the beautiful outfits she had made for me and I tried them on. Not being an expert at tying a Gele (head tie) Angela came to my rescue and showed me how it should be done. They look so stunning when you know what you’re doing and just from a simple piece of material. I unfortunately can’t carry it off as well as the Nigerians they always look stunning in them.
Femi came mid afternoon and I was able to complete my packing with the missing suitcase recovered. I said my goodbyes and thank yous to Angela, Damola and family for their kindness in hosting me, making me feel part of their family and for their generosity of gifts.
We headed to Surulere to meet with Aderemi in her showroom, where she displays her talents for design for prospective clients to view. We then headed though the Lagos streets back to Mafoluku to pick up the clothes that the staff had made for me, taking in the sights and sounds for the last time.
We then headed to Ikeja to a restaurant called the Orchid Bistro that is run by a Doctor that opened this little oasis in Lagos. Nigerian food is hardly featured on the menu, the food was great and the coffee (for one of the world fussiest coffee drinkers) was perfect, hot, strong, not bitter. The décor which Aderemi had designed was clean and modern, I could have been in the UK, it was simple yet effective and classy. Not the cheapest place to eat but somewhere I would certainly recommend and like to return to.
While there we happened to meet Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, the commissioner for tourism, who appeared to be a very pleasant gentleman. He was enjoying the atmosphere with his sons. I chatted briefly and said what an enjoyable time I had had in Lagos.
Then Chief Dele Momodu came in and I was introduced to him. This gentleman is the publisher of the Ovation Magazine and was the kind donator of 1 million Naira (£4500) to Wish for Africa at the Ovation Red Carol event in 2009. It is also said that he has aspirations to be a future President, never one to be too in awe of people, I just said nice to meet him and commented on how nice his aftershave was (I’m sure Femi despairs of me sometimes).
The meal over we made our way to the airport, where Femi drove to the departures drop off, said a quick farewell and left. Lagos airport is not as organized or as updated as UK airports and unless you know what you’re doing, it’s not obvious. Anxiously, I made my way to the check in area and gave the helpless blonde white woman look, until someone pointed me in the direction of where to go. I had to then manage my two heavy suitcases, pull along cabin bag, laptop bag and handbag single handedly as the trolley had to be abandoned. The suitcases had to be placed on weighing scales then I had to drag them over to the next person who writes your name in a book, then to someone who opens and looks through each bag, then finally to the check in.
Once this was over I joined the long queue through to departures. With no air conditioning and no computer system it is a long and sweaty process. The queue crept forward slowly and I found myself standing next to a Nigerian woman with a little boy Casey, who were on their way to Germany. He chatted to everyone and he at least gave everyone around him some amusement as we waited for our turn. Eventually it was my turn to go before the two different people that check your papers, then for my stuff to be scanned and me to be frisked, which everyone is, but I wonder if the detector thing you walk through even works?
Finally through, I made my way to my gate, where I sat down with the crowds waiting to board. We were then called in and made our way to our seats and waited for take off. The plane left on time and as we rose over Lagos, I looked at the areas of light and darkness thinking I will miss the uncertainty of NEPA in a funny sort of way. I wondered if or when I will ever return.
Lagos like us humans is full of faults and inadequacies but has something about it that is appealing, exciting and addictive. There is so much room for improvement, so many areas it falls short in but it also appears to be genuinely making progress. So much of Lagos is hard to understand and difficult to comprehend, yet it is vibrant and welcoming. Its people can be selfish, greedy, corrupt, yet they can be warm, generous and inspiring. Lagos has a long way to go and much to do before it can become appealing to holiday makers but it has the potential, it has the beaches, the sun and the atmosphere, but it has to work on its roads, electricity, beaches, safety etc. Lagos can and will be great, health care will improve, it will be a mega city, but people will have to have long term vision and not just a desire to fill their own pockets, once the people in charge take control for the right reasons Lagos and Nigeria will be great.